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Intel Buys PasswordBox To Add ID Management To Its Security Business

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Intel has made another acquisition to beef up its security division as it pushes to build more services and hardware beyond its core chip business. It has acquired PasswordBox, makers of digital identity management software.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. More specifically, “Terms of the transaction were not disclosed and are not material to Intel’s operations,” according to a statement from Intel announcing the acquisition.

Nevertheless, it’s a significant enough piece of news for the company that it is planning a formal announcement of it later today, in Montreal, where PasswordBox was originally founded in 2012 and Intel also has offices.

PasswordBox has to date had 14 million downloads of its software and all of its 48 employees are joining Intel Security, where they will be working as part of the company’s Safe Identity division.

Importantly, the tech is not disappearing, although it’s not clear longer-term what form all of it will take.

“The acquisition is expected to support future innovations that will be announced at a later date,” Intel noted in its statement on the acquisition.

Later, in an interview, neither Daniel Robichaud, CEO and co-founder of PasswordBox, nor Mark Hocking, Security VP at Intel, would comment directly on what services or partnerships PasswordBox will be offering to users longer term, except to note that everything is remaining as is for now as work begins on new products.

“For now we cannot share any new product details so I prefer not to comment on that,” Robichaud said. “We’re working on something really exciting.”

Today, PasswordBox functions like a personal information digital locker, holding not just passwords for sites but other details such as encrypted notes to yourself, membership and passport information, and more.

As a counterpoint to the “lifetime and beyond” promise that companies like Evernote promise for your notes and other cloud-stored data, PasswordBox also includes an option for how to manage that data after you die, by way of its own acquisition of Legacy Locker, made last year.

“PasswordBox has spent the last two years building a product that people love, trust and use around the world every day,” said Robichaud in a statement. “We share Intel Security’s vision of simple, secure access and identity protection across all platforms and devices. Together, we believe we can offer our customers world-class technology, expertise and support to bring such access anywhere – all backed by Intel.”

PasswordBox had raised $6 million from investors that include Canada’s Omers Ventures (a regular fixture for strong investments in Canadian startups), Lee Linden from Facebook and more.

Intel Security was formed in January 2014 and the acquisition of PasswordBox brings together a few different themes: Intel’s ambition to move deeper into value-added services for enterprises; the rise of computer hacking in our increasingly networked world; and the bigger move to add more password protection services, exemplified also by the growth of standalone companies like Okta and Centrify as well as moves from larger companies like Microsoft to bundle ID management services into their cloud-based offerings.

Indeed, the growth of cloud-based services, the issue of passwords and managing them is a very real side effect and headache of Internet life today, both for enterprises as well as consumers. Intel is directly trying to address that with this acquisition.

“Everyone can relate to password fatigue. The PasswordBox service has already brought relief to millions of consumers who now enjoy simple, instant login,” said Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security Group, in a statement. “Intel Security and PasswordBox share the same goal of improving digital identity protection across all devices and platforms. We believe we have the technology, expertise and reach to bring simple, secure access to consumers worldwide.”

The new acquisition will also sit alongside other ID management services that already exist at Intel, specifically products from McAfee.

PasswordBox has been one of the more innovative companies in the area of how to tackle this. For example, earlier this year it teamed up with another Canadian startup, Bionym, makers of a heartbeat-sensing wristband, to use that rhythm effectively as a “fingerprint” to authenticate mobile log-ins.

The company would not comment on what will happen with this partnership — which had yet to yield a product — but of course innovations with wearables resonates with Intel and touches on another area where the company wants to make a bigger splash.

“We want to solve the problem of ID management for consumers as holistically as we can,” Hocking noted in the interview today.

Intel’s total acquisition roster is now just shy of 60 companies.

Updated throughout with comments from both Intel and PasswordBox.

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